June 2017 will be a very memorable month as this is when I started my journey as the School Transformation Lead. I was assigned to a school located in the alleys of Konapanna Agrahara near Electronics City in Bangalore.
My work finally started. The training helped me break the ice with the teachers. Before doing anything in the school, I wanted to spend time understanding the school, the teachers, and the culture. It was an important step because it would give me time and information to design a solution that the school needed and could be sustainable.
So, in the first week, I just focused on visiting the classes of the teachers in the pre-primary section and knowing how they take their classes. I understood their challenges by talking to them. This gave me an idea about what were the major pain points of the teachers and helped me come up with my plan of action. Most of the teachers in the pre-primary section were struggling with managing their classes as the age range of children is 3 to 5 years. The other area of concern was teaching alphabets to them. So, we started doing the bridge course that was a mix of Phonics lessons and Shikshamitra Teaching strategies.
We also worked on behavior management strategies in the class wherein the teachers were introduced to Attention grabbers, rules and use of trackers in the class. To my surprise, the pre-primary teachers were very receptive to the new ideas and that made it easier to execute these ideas there.
While working with the pre-primary teachers, I also tried to co-plan lessons with the teachers in the primary sections. It was a great experience to co-plan lesson with the Math teacher for grade 1. We both worked on how she can teach shapes to her children. The best part was to get ideas from her. I learned a lot about her strategy of teaching in the class. Next, the co-planning session was with the Science teacher for grade 2, she wanted to teach “Uses of Plants”. So, we decided that we will use Concept mapping in the class and get the children to contribute more in the lesson. Later on, while discussing the lesson, the teacher mentioned that she really enjoyed taking the class as it was very interactive. The participation and engagement of the children were brilliant in the class. She shared that the highlight for her was when children were able to answer the assessment question. The question was “Mention how do you use plants from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed”. To this children gave out answers like, “The food that we eat comes from plants, the paper that we are writing on comes from plants etc. It was a delight to hear her share this.
Apart from these, taking demo classes really worked in the school as it helped me establish my credibility in front of the teachers. It also helped them see that the techniques they think might not work in the class are actually quite effective. The grade 4 Maths teacher wanted to know how she can teach number system to children. So, we did a demo class with children on number grouping using broom sticks. The children enjoyed the class and the teacher shared that she will try it out in other classes. This helped me build a better relationship with her and she seemed much more confident to execute the lesson.
This last month has been quite a ride. I have learned to first understand the situation rather than jumping in with the solutions that are right from my perspective. The opportunity of interacting with the teachers and the school leader has made me understand the challenges that they face on a daily basis. I have also realized that I can learn so much from them. Sharing lunch with the teachers and listening to their stories is the best part of my day. In just a month’s time, I feel accepted in the school and I hope this bond keeps getting stronger in the future. I am looking forward to the months ahead. I know they will be difficult and at times I might just give up but then these little achievements in the school are what will keep me going.
-Written by Ms. Poonam Shukla, School Transformation Lead, Mantra4Change